Pentagon official says US may slow pullout from Afghanistan

Pentagon official says US may slow pullout from Afghanistan
Pentagon press secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby speaks during a briefing at the Pentagon, Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014. The Pentagon says the leader of the Somalia-based al-Shabab extremist group was the target of U.S. military airstrikes that struck an encampment and a vehicle Monday night. Kirby said the results of the strike are being assessed and he can't confirm if Somali Ahmed Abdi Godane, the rebel leader, was hit. He says the strike against Godane was conducted by special operations forces with manned and unmanned aircraft firing hellfire missiles and precision-guided munitions. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

According to Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby, the US military’s departure from Afghanistan may be slowed as a result of the Taliban’s advances.

President Joe Biden’s goal of a complete withdrawal by September remains in force, according to Kirby, although the pace may be modified depending on circumstances.

“The situation in Afghanistan changes as the Taliban continue to conduct these attacks and to raid district centers as well as the violence, which is still too high,” he told reporters.

“If there need to be changes made to the pace, or to the scope and scale of the retrograde, on any given day or in any given week, we want to maintain the flexibility to do that,” he said.

“We’re constantly taking a look at this, every single day: what´s the situation on the ground, what capabilities do we have, what additional resources do we need to move out of Afghanistan, and at what pace.”

“All of these decisions are literally being made in real-time,” he added.

According to Pentagon officials, the pullout, which was ordered by Biden in April after almost two decades of battling Al-Qaeda and assisting government troops in their war against the Taliban, is about half-finished.

Around 2,500 US soldiers and 16,000 contractors, mainly US residents, were in the nation at the time of Biden’s decision. Several of the Pentagon’s major sites have already been handed over to government security personnel, and hundreds of cargo aircraft loads of equipment have been evacuated.

Kirby said that US soldiers are still assisting Afghan troops in their battle against the Taliban.

“So long as we have the capability in Afghanistan, we will continue to provide assistance to Afghan forces,” he said.

“But as the retrograde gets closer to completion, those capabilities will wane and will no longer be available.”

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